January 2, 2014

Good blogging platforms other than Blogger, Wordpress

This is first in the 2-part series on the subject of blogging platforms. In this part, we'd talk about the options available and in the second part, we'd compare the main platforms. 

When we talk about the blogosphere, two names come to our minds: Blogger and Wordpress.com. They together account for the majority of blogs. [Wordpress.org, well, is also popular among bloggers but it is a website building software / content management system rather than a blogging platform.] Both have powerful tools and add-ons, and both are free [with paid options too for hosting etc]. 

Tumblr too is popular, but it is a cross between a blogging platform and social network. Proliferates on people's [mostly young people's] quick sharing of content and the anonymity that it provides to the blogger.

Livejournal, once phenomenal but now not that popular, is a platform that promotes people of similar interests making communities of bloggers.

Medium comes with a simple layout and focuses on the written word, no frills. On this platform, you just write; forget about tabs, sidebars, colours, widgets, photos... Also allows collaboration with others.

Sett is what it calls 'high-engagement blogging'. In simple terms, it focuses on your work getting noticed on social media fast. Beyond a vanilla account, 'high-engagement' is paid service.

Then there are TypepadSquarespace, Movable Type and other paid blogging services and content management systems (CMS). These boast of great support and customisation. 

Ghost started recently as an open-source platform with a lot of promise and is now shaping itself as a free service for self-hosted blogs and with a paid-for hosting service. So, no free blogging like that on Blogger and Wordpress.com. Its buzzword: stupendous dashboard.

Should I shift my blog to a new platform?

We discussed in detail the importance of having a self-hosted site and that is in no dispute. But for that, you need a CMS [free or paid] and a paid host. If you are prepared for that, go ahead and don't read further.

What if you have a blog on Blogger or Wordpress and you are fascinated by the other names we've mentioned above and many more on the web? We'd not recommend shifting your blog lock-stock-and-barrel unless you are sure that the new place better suits your blog. In addition to not having the might of Google or Worpress behind you, you might lose if the site dies down one morning. It happened with geocities.com long back, it happened with posterous.com a few weeks back.

So why this post?

For two reasons. One, to let you go to these sites and learn about new thinking on content sharing, collaboration, design etc. Some ideas go much beyond what is offered by Blogger and Wordpress even after plug-ins.

Two, to let you experiment. We'd suggest that you keep your main blog intact and play with a few of other platforms. Some of these might supplement your blog in a big way. Maybe, you like one of these to such an extent that you want to shift your blog there; but that must be a well-thought-after decision.

By the way, if you reached here looking for comparison between the big names in blogging [e.g. to decide whether to shift from Blogger to Tumblr], do wait till you have seen our next post in this series [likely sometime in this very month].